Talladega Qualifying Rained Out; Almirola On Pole
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Aric Almirola has a fast car.
Turns out, he's a pretty good weather forecaster, too.
Almirola and his teammate at Richard Petty Motorsports, Marcos Ambrose, both went out for Friday's first practice thinking there was a decent chance of rain the following day.
So they hooked up in the draft with the idea of putting up a fast time. The strategy worked to perfection -- Almirola posted a blistering lap of exactly 202 mph, Ambrose was third at 201.876, and the rain came on Saturday.
Jeff Burton will start from the outside of the front row based on a speed of 201.987.
Almirola's only previous pole was for the 600-miler at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May 2012.
He wound up finishing 16th.
NASCAR sent out its high-powered dryer in an attempt to get qualifying in, but the rain didn't let up in time. A truck race was scheduled for the afternoon and there are no lights at the massive 2.66-mile trioval. Qualifying for the spring race at Talladega also was rained out.
Even though Almirola lucked into this pole position to some extent, it was still a bittersweet moment for a team still reeling from the loss of crew chief Todd Parrott. He was indefinitely suspended this week by NASCAR for violation of its substance-abuse policy.
Burton is also looking for a strong performance in his farewell season at Richard Childress Racing.
He won't return to the No. 31 car next year.
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